$2.25 Million for 4 Wrongful Deaths

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) – A Sunset Hills police officer and the bar that served her alcohol must pay $2.25 million to settle a wrongful death suit. Christine L. Miller, who was off duty, drank “a high quantity” of alcohol and then drove her car into oncoming traffic, killing four people and severely injuring another, according to the civil suit in St. Louis County Court.

     Miller, 42, is awaiting trial on manslaughter charges stemming from the March 21, 2009 accident.
     The family of each person killed will receive $331,375 and plaintiffs’ attorneys will get $750,000, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
     The lone survivor, Nitesh Adsumilli, 28, will get $180,000, the Post-Dispatch reported. None of the settlement details were included in the court file. The sums are the maximum allowed by the defendants’ insurance companies.
     The wrongful death suit, filed in June 2009, accused Miller and O’Leary’s bar of negligence. It accused Miller of driving on the wrong side of the road with a blood alcohol level of 0.169 percent, more than twice the legal limit, three hours after the crash.
     The families claimed O’Leary’s employees “knew Miller was intoxicated” but did not stop her from driving or call a cab, and continued to serve Miller alcohol despite her slurred speech and unsteady gait. O’Leary’s is less than a mile from the Sunset Hills police station.
     The four victims were Satya Subhakar Chinta, 25; Anusha Anumolu, 23; Anita Lakshmi Veerapaneni, 23; and Priya Muppavarapu, 22. All four passengers were natives of India, and had studied and worked in the United States for several years. Adusumilli suffered a head injury fractured rib, liver trauma, lung contusion and skull contusions.
Miller faces four counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and one count of second-degree assault.
     Sunset Hills police put Miller on unpaid suspension after the charges were filed. Sunset Hills is 15 miles southwest of St. Louis.

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